SINGAPORE: Some football fans in Singapore are crying foul over being cut off from the current UEFA Champions League season.
They found themselves without access to the games broadcast by cable television operator SingTel two weeks ago.
SingTel had re—packaged the Champions League offerings, and some existing subscribers will have to pay more to watch the matches.
SingTel cable television subscriber Royston Jalleh planned to catch a UEFA Champions League game early one morning, but was unable to.
It was only after making some calls that Mr Jalleh discovered that the league’s games he previously had access to were just previews, and he had to upgrade to a new sports package to continue watching.
Mr Jalleh said: "I don’t understand, being an existing customer, if there’s a re—packaging, does that not automatically get you, you know, into that sort of like package? You know I’m trying to figure this out! So what, do I have to call somebody up? I have to go down to SingTel and actually sign something?"
Under cross—carriage regulations, cable television providers with exclusive broadcast rights to a programme would have to make it available on other similar platforms.
However, the providers can decide how they want to sell the programmes that they have the rights to.
SingTel said it offered the UEFA Champions League matches for the 2009—2012 seasons to its sports pack subscribers on a complimentary basis.
It said its subscribers were sent letters from early October 2012, informing them of changes to the way sports programmes were offered.
SingTel added that it also sent text messaging alerts to subscribers and advertised information about its channel restructuring, saying it had consciously exercised due diligence in ensuring that the information was clearly conveyed in a timely manner.
Ken Lai, who heads English team Manchester United’s supporters’ club in Singapore, said many existing subscribers had the impression that Champions League coverage would continue.
Some have to fork out about S$10 more to continue watching the league with SingTel’s restructured sports offerings.
Mr Lai said: "Pretty upset, pretty upset. I mean, we are not going to cancel the subscription because we’ll incur the penalty fund. If we incur the penalty fee, then it’s not worth it for us to cancel especially for those who actually have signed at the beginning of the year."
SingTel said due to the rising costs of sports content delivery, Champions League coverage can no longer be provided on a complimentary basis.
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